A Box of ChocolatesYou’ve probably heard a lot about the horrors of sugar consumption among people of all ages. It’s sprinkled around the media and the subject is really something that deserves our attention. Why? Because we’ve moved way past the danger zone and we’re headed to the catastrophe level. Let me explain and then also tell you why I always have a box of chocolates in my cupboard.

Try to grasp this huge change in the lives of Americans since the 1820s to life today. Life was simpler in many ways, but daily living also required a lot of physical energy. At that time, sugar was used for baking and the typical sugar consumption of one person was less than 2 teaspoons of the sweetener per day. And that was being eaten in special occasion desserts like pies with fresh apples and whole grain crusts. And the pie was made with apples that needed to be picked, butter that needed to churned, and wheat flour that needed to be milled. It all required exercise (not to mention the other daily chores).

Now fast forward to today. Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day according to a report from the 2005–10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database. Teens and men consume the most added sugars. Average daily consumption for men: 335 calories, women: 230 calories, boys: 362 calories, girls: 282 calories.

Staggering increase, right? The average person consumes 10 times more sugar each day than people did “back then.” Plus, we expend much less energy in our typical daily lives.

Clearly, we’re not spooning that much sugar onto the morning cereal or into a cup of coffee or tea. Instead, a third of the added sugar calories consumed in the U.S. are from sodas and energy drinks. Packaged foods also contain added sugars including sauces, canned fruits and vegetables, salad dressings and sugary snacks and desserts. Food manufacturers also add sugar to flavored yogurt and flavored milk. These are just a few of the ways we as Americans are downing teaspoons of sugar each day!

What can we each do to reverse this trend in our live?

First, if you cut back or cut out sodas and energy drinks you’ll consume far fewer calories! Drink more water. If you want your water to have a little flavor kick, add slices of lemon, lime or cucumber to the healthy no-calorie beverage.

You can also switch to Stevia, a natural sweetener that comes from plants and has next to no calories. You can purchase stevia in little packets, similar to sugar packets, and use it in your coffee and tea, plus you can sprinkle it over your cereal.

Also, satisfy your desire for something sweet with foods that have naturally occurring sugar in them, such as apples, oranges, raisins, dates and an array of other whole foods.

But what about those times when you really want a punch of sweetness? You know, those times when an apple just won’t do the trick?

That’s when the box of chocolates comes out of my cupboard. And I select one pretty little offering, place it on a small plate, and return the box to its spot. Then I thoroughly enjoy the chocolate. I don’t eat it all in one bite. But instead, I nibble on it over a five- or ten-minute span of enjoyment. I sometimes add a cup of piping hot coffee or some other beverage to my time of sweet pleasure. I appreciate the flavors in about four bites and by that time the craving is satisfied. And I’ve consumed about 50 calories. Compare that with more than 500 calories found in a slice of frosted chocolate cake!

Did it take me a while to get off sugar and onto a healthier lifestyle? Yes. And I am so glad that I made the switch . . . and my body is glad, also. I dropped 20 pounds. I have more energy. And I am healthier!

If you want to learn more about the sugar crisis in America check out these resources.

Sugar in America

Problems with Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar and Coke

Are You Addicted to Sugar

And if you want to start taking action in your own life to adopt a healthy lifestyle by submitting your body to God’s care, then consider becoming our newest member to Choose Life Now, which is a Christ-centered online membership program made up of like-minded Christians who are answering God call to health in their lives.